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tv   Anderson Cooper 360  CNN  January 11, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PST

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good evening. the president of the united states is tired of so many black people coming to this country. tired of immigrants from haiti and africa being allowed in. quote, why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here, the president said today at the white house. his comments reported first by "the washington post" confirmed by cnn and amazingly not denied by the president or the people around him. tired of africans and haitianing, the president would like more people from cup trees like norway, norway, white people, in other words. james baldwin, the great writer, the great american said ignorance alied with power is the most ferocious enemy we can have.
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ignorance alied with power. for the president of the united states to believe haitians have not contributed extraordinary things to american society is ignorant. for him to claim all the countries of africa are shitholes is woefully ignorant. but as disturbing as you may think these sentiments are, these comments by the president are actually not anything new. three weeks ago "the new york times" reported something else the president said about haitians in another meeting at the white house. he reportedly said they, quote, all have aids and said that nigerians quote, live in huts. now, the white house denied he said those things at the time three weeks ago. they are not denying he said the comments today, which were spoken in a room with bipartisan lawmakers. perhaps the white house feels the president's remarks will be well received in some parts of this country, among some parts of the president's base, and perhaps that is true. but it doesn't make what he said any less ignorant or any less racist. not racial, not racially charged, racist. let's not kid ourselves. let's not pretend or dance
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around it. the sentiment the president expressed today is a racist sentiment. josh dawsey is the reporter who broke the story. i spoke to him right before air time. josh, these racist comments by the president, can you just explain how they came about and what context they were said? >> sure. so there was a bipartisan meeting today on trying to get to an immigration deal. and in the meeting senator dick durbin and lindsey graham, durbin a democrat from illinois, lindsey graham a republican from south carolina, outlined a plan where they would cut the number of immigrants who came, part of the visa lottery system, but would still have a number from countries that are protected, tps status. after that the president seemed frustrated that they wanted immigrants to come from african countries, from haiti, from places that he deemed shithole countries in the meeting. it kind of took lawmakers aback. the president said he would prefer immigrants from norway and possibly other asian
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countries that he thinks are more beneficial to the united states and its economy. >> how did lawmakers, other people in the room react, do you know? >> they were taken aback. the president was salty during the exchange on several occasions. i think there was cursing on both sides from the president and from some of the lawmakers. it was a comment that was pretty unexpected. we haven't been able to hear from a lot of the republicans in the room, haven't gotten reactions from them tonight. but among democratic aides and even some republican aides that we've talked to there was a sense of, wow, he really just said that. >> what's interesting is "the new york times" i think weeks ago had reported the president had previously said -- described people from nigeria essentially as living in huts, i believe was the term he used. and said that haitians had aids, that all haitians had aids. those comments were denied by the white house very quickly. the white house, they're not denying the president said this today. >> no. and to be clear, anderson, before we published our story, we called the white house and went over every single comment
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we were attributing to the president and we got no denial either. the statement did not deny our story. we have gotten zero indication from the white house that they disagree with our reporting here. >> in fact the statement that the white house has put out essentially says that the president wants people -- immigrants who are going to contribute to society. i guess the white house believing that people of african descent or of haitian descent do not contribute as immigrants to this society, which is just patently false. >> well, and you're seeing though, anderson, too, some of the president's supporters like this. i saw ann coulter tweet that maybe the president was trying to win her back. she's been critical of some of his more liberal moves on immigration. i think to a large portion of the country they see these comments as inappropriate. some may deem them even racist. but i think some of the president's supporters who really want to cut down even on legal immigration. one of the things we've seen from this president time and time again, anderson, is a
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desire to cut even not just illegal immigration, cut back on the number of people who come here legally by 50%. you saw earlier this week where they plan to remove 200,000 salvadorans back to their country. they have not made a secret of their immigration agenda. i think if the white house really wanted to push back on this, they would. it seems they do not want to deny the president made these comments. >> i appreciate your time, thank you. >> thanks, anderson. >> the white house is trying to manage the situation. jim acosta joins us now. have we heard anything from the president himself about these comments? >> reporter: no, anderson. right now the white house is paralyzed and frozen in terms of how it is dealing with this. sarah sanders said there won't be any more comments coming from the white house about what the president said earlier today to that group of lawmakers when they were trying to talk about this immigration issue. we want to report some new information coming out of that meeting. a person familiar with what went
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on in that meeting said that the president when talking about the temporary protection status for haitians, that status being eliminated by the trump administration apparently senator durbin and others were discussing this in this meeting, a person familiar with the meeting tells us that the president at that point said, quote, why do we need more haitians? take them out. so again, another fairly offensive comment there coming from the president, a very offensive comment coming from the president. now, we should point out just to underline what you were saying a few moments, anderson, the president of the united states has a history of making these racially charged offensive comments and we put together a graphic just to demonstrate that, that this goes back for some time now. remember, president trump is the person who repeated the lie that president obama was not born in the united states when he launched his campaign. he said some mexican immigrants are rapists.
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just last august after the tragedy in charlottesville, he said that there were very fine people among the white supremacists who were protesting there. and then of course today saying that haitians and africans come from shithole countries. anderson, time and again this is just a problem area for this president where he just seems to harbor these racist attitudes and is apparently feeling more and more emboldened to say this. i talked to a source close to the white house this evening who was shocked that the president with say this among lawmakers because it would obviously get out. the irony of all ironies, a sad irony tonight, my colleague, jeff zeleny is reporting that the president heard about all of this coming out in the news when he was taping a message for martin luther king day, which is, of course, coming up on monday. >> we should also point out this is the day before the eighth anniversary of the devastating haiti earthquake in which more than 200,000 people were killed or crushed to death. i understand staffers at the white house don't believe that these comments are a big problem. is that possibly true?
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>> reporter: well, i think that there's a feeling among some in the white house that this may somehow play well with the president's base. i think that's a sad commentary about the president's base. i think there are even people who are very strong supporters of president trump who would say tonight that these comments are extremely disappointing. i talked to somebody this evening who was saying, listen, these are just dumb comments, they are not racist comments coming from the president. anderson, as we were just showing and you were outlining earlier, there just seems to be a pattern here for this president. it's a disturbing pattern because it seems to come back to one truth here and that is that this president deep down may just be a racist. >> if you're saying you don't want more black people in this country coming from africa or coming from haiti, you want more white people from norway, hard to see that as anything else but in racist terms. >> reporter: anderson, i just want to say very quickly that last summer when we had that exchange with stephen miller in
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the briefing room about the statue of liberty, you know, i asked him, it sounds like you're trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow into this country. at that time stephen miller said i was ignorant for making that kind of suggestion. but as josh dawsey was saying, this administration has not made any secret about what its immigration policy is. their policy is to restrict the flow of people of color coming into this country and the president made that clear earlier today in his comments to those lawmakers. >> whether from central america, mexico, muslim countries, haiti, any place in africa. jim acosta, appreciate the reporting. this new reporting we should also point out is in stark contrast as to what donald trump said as a candidate when he was trying to get the haitian community to support him on the campaign trail. watch this from september of 2016 in miami. >> whether you vote for me or you don't vote for me, i really want to be your greats champion and i will be your champion. the haitian people deserve better, and that's what i intend to give them.
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i will give them better. >> i will be your greatest champion. joining me, van jones, bakari sellers, ana navarro. ana, there is any other way to interpret his comment other than being just racist? >> of course there's no other way to interpret it. this is not an isolated comment. the first thing he did when he started running was calm mexicans rapists. he has gone on to equate white supremacists in charlottesville to the people protesting against them. he has called black athletes sons of bitches. he has feuded with the congresswoman who represents little haiti, frederica wilson. last year at this time he was feuding with civil rights icon john lewis. this is not a coincidence, this is a pattern of behavior. we have a racist, a shameless racist who has hijacked the republican party, who has hijacked the oval office. and this country needs to stand up against this and tell him that we will not let him divide us by color, by race, by ethnicity, by economy.
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we will not by quiet, we will not allow this. donald trump, this is not america, this is not america and we will fight against your division, your racism, your anger, your hatred and all the horrible things you are trying to do to this country. >> van jones, i mean should this come as a surprise to people? >> well, i mean it's not only racist, it's only just inaccurate. numbers are sometimes better. 33% of americans have college degrees. god bless everybody, it's a lot of hard work, now they have student debt. 43% of african immigrants have college degrees, okay? 11% of white people in america have a graduate people. one-quarter, 25% of nigerian americans have a graduate degree. so what is he talking about? part of the thing is that when you're relying on just horrible stereotypes -- by the way, melania trump, our first lady who i admire greatly, is from
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slovenia, not exactly the jewel of europe. slovenia. but she's welcome here and nigerians are not. there's something wrong with the way this president is proceeding. i don't think anybody here on this panel can defend these kind of comments. if you want to have a conversation about immigration policy, you can have it without insulting whole continents and whole countries, especially when you have african immigrants coming to this country, making america better every day and being disrespected by this president. >> jason, the idea that all haitians have aids, that they should get out, the president doesn't want more black people from africa or from haiti, wants more white people from norway. is that defensible? >> so, anderson, that's not at all what the president said so let's talk about the what the context of today was. >> he didn't say that all haitians said aids? >> no, no. >> it was reported in "the new york times." >> well, the white house has denied that. >> they denied that in a meeting of white house staff. but they can't deny today because bipartisan lawmakers
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heard it. do you think it's such a big jump for him to say all haitians have aids to him saying that it's a shithole? >> i don't think that the point is for you or me or anybody else to put words in the president's mouth. >> the president is putting racist words in his own mouth. go ahead. >> he was not making racist comments. today the whole point of the meeting is the fact that president trump, unlike democrats and republicans in the past is actually going to get something done on d.r.e.a.m.ers, something i don't think he's getting any credit for. so this is the meeting, they're having a bipartisan meeting to talk about the 700 or 800,000 d.r.e.a.m.ers. they get to the section on overall comprehensive immigration reform. trump is going to get it done. they get to the section on merit-based immigration and the president has been very clear that he doesn't think there should be carve-outs from any country. not from norway, not from great britain, not from haiti, not from el salvador, not from any country does he think there should be special carve-outs by
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each country. he thinks there should be merit-based by each person. >> what does that have to do talking about s-hole countries? >> hold on, hold on. >> there's more people with merit from norway or africa? >> there shouldn't be carve-outs. the plan that these lawmakers came back to him actually still have these carve-outs for countries on the tps list, countries that are in severely economically distressed places that are sending us tens of thousands of people. >> africa. >> if they even have the shirt on their backs they're lucky. >> have you been to africa? do you know how many countries are in africa? i know the president likes to make up countries that are not actually in africa and that don't exist but they're incredibly developed and well off countries in africa. in fact when the president was speaking to black african leaders he was talking about all his rich friends making money in africa. >> you're leaving a lot out from the conversation. what you heard from jim acosta
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and we've heard from previous blocks, not only did the president say when he was talking about countries doing much better economically, he said norway or countries in asia. he didn't name specific countries in asia, so he's talking around the world. why would you go and specifically say that there need to be carve-outs from countries that are so economically distressed. >> so he's willing to generalize about all asians as being people who are working hard and deserve the merit of coming here, but all africans are not. how is that not by race? >> he's making a race that it should be by individuals and shouldn't be going and targeting -- >> everybody from asia is hard working and deserves to come here? >> no, the whole point is should be a merit-based system, just like canada does it on a point-based system. it's a pretty smart immigration idea. i think ultimately the president -- >> can we get in -- >> van, i want you to respond to that. >> you're trying to make it sound like -- >> go ahead, van. >> listen, i give you an "a" for
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effort, but the reality is you haven't addressed the issue that alarmed the entire world. when you say s-hole countries and then you say norway is welcome and these people are not, that is not a smart conversation about immigration policy. you and i can disagree and argue about skills based versus tps versus anything else. that's not what was happening. >> hold on a second. that's not what's happening is you have a president that has shown his heart to the country. he's shown his heart. and in his heart, people from africa, a billion -- almost a billion people live in africa. to him, they all are s-hole people who live in s-hole places. that is wrong and you should denounce it. by the way, sir, and jason, i know you very well, you should denounce it. you should denounce that, jason. i know you very well. why won't you denounce that? why won't you denounce s-hole nation. >> everyone in the world wants to come to the u.s. you know why? because this is a great place.
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>> do you think africa is an s-hole continent? >> we have to reform -- >> jason -- >> we have to reform. >> maybe we do. jason, i'm talking to you man to man. i'm talking to you person to person. >> i'm giving you straight answers. >> do you think africa is an s-hole continent, yes or no? >> there are lots of s-hole places all around the world. you're trying to bait me. you've run out of ideas so you're trying to bait me on something. >> do you want to have a conversation about immigration? >> okay, let me bring in -- let me bring in bakari sellers. >> let me just hear this. >> bakari, we haven't heard from you. when jason is saying there's a lot of shithole countries, let's just use the word the president is using, if it's good enough for the president to use, i think the american public deserves to hear the words the president is using. the idea that all countries in africa are shitholes is woefully ignorant. it's just wrong and shows the president knows nothing.
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>> yeah, but i think that -- i mean i have to give jason the name of my chiropractor for getting in that pretzel to defend this nonsense, the comments that the president made were asinine, ignorant, any other adjective you want to add to this discussion. why are we surprised? if we go back in history this is the same man sued by the department of justice and used to put a "c" on applications for black persons. why are we surprised? this is the same man who has not apologized for the central park five. down here in south carolina, we throw our hands up to black folk and said we have tried to tell you this is who this man was. it is not as if he was just showing you today. stokley carmichael said a might man who wants to lynch me, that is his problem. a white man who has the power to lynch me, that is my problem. racism is a question of power, not of attitude. so when we say that the president of the united states is racist, it's because he
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harbors these views and he has the power to implement policy to subjogate these people to those systems. this is not rocket science. i'm not surprised at all. and this is what drives me up a wall, anderson. this is the problem with the discussion that we're having. people want to say, oh, my god, he's talking to economic anxiety voters or giving red meat to his base. the hell with all of that. i am sick and tired of the good people in this country who support donald trump, who will not stand up and call this for what it is. we have an issue with race in this country that dates long back before donald trump and long back before barack obama and george bush and bill clinton and george bush, but we have never dealt with that issue because good people sit on their hands. if you cannot sit here on live tv and say that what the president of the united states, be his friend or not his friend, was racist, then you are not contributing to making this a more perfect union. >> i've got to take a quick break. i want to hear what mark has to say when we come back.
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today. what's your thinking? >> well, the sad part is i wasn't surprised. you know, we've come to a really sad place in our country when the president speaks, one, you're not surprised any anything he says and, two, you escort the children out of the room because you don't know what's going to come out of his mouth. and today is just one of those days where he's feeling pressure from his base and as any great three-card monte player, he creates a distraction. so there was no secret meeting with u.s. senators that using the word a shithouse describing african countries that it could get leaked, but it keeps us from talking about his failure to live up to his commitment to the d.r.e.a.m.ers. it takes us off of message of what we should be talking about and we're just talking about how
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racially insensitive he is, how ignorant it is or how simple-minded the comment is and how so many people just find this to be normal and are making excuses for the president. that's almost just as troubling as the other parts. >> well, this notion that the white house thinks these comments will play well with the president's base, that just the bill should be craftwood love, he crushed from his base talking about his he was going back on word. he was allowing am nesty. today gave him a chance to show that he was tough. and that he would get rid of the diversity visa and stop all from
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the people from the shithouse like africa coming over. when et facts show that when you're talking about attaining college degrees african immigrants do a better job than everyone else. we're not talking about facts but emotions. i think that hes is one of the best in the world as dividing people and distracting people from the real issues. and that's the unfortunate part about it. because we're not talking about d.r.e.a.m.ers tonight. we're talking about racially insensitive comments and coming from the cht of the united states as opposed to how we keep government running. how do we fulfill the promise to the d.r.e.a.m.ers? we are distracted that was his ultimate goit. >> congressman i appreciate your time thank you. the president repeatedly said he is the least racist person ever including on this network when he was interviewed by don lemon during the campaign. take a look. >> are you racist. >> i am least racist person that you have ever met. i am the least racist person. >> back now with the panel.
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mark lotter. you work closely with the vice president. i cannot imagine the vice president of the united states ever saying anything like this. can you? >> well, i mean let's be honest. this is not nickolodeon. >> i don't oh know what that means. >> can you imagine the vice president, the man you work forever saying anything like this yes or no. >> that's not the kind of language that the vice president would use. but let's be honest thp salty language is going back to president's all the way back to harry trum zbloon there is salt and racist is this race i. >> he is talking about his immigration goals of our country. >> no black people from africa or haiti. >> no it's not where you're from. it's who you are. he wants it based on bringing in the best and bright sfleeft why talk about shit hoe countries. >> he is talking about bringing in large numbers based where you are from not who you are. he is talking about merit based from beginning. he wants to america to attract
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the best and bright zbleeft he is not talking about the entire continent of africa. >> what he was talking about was is he is talking about a merit based system. i looked up a few minutes before i came in norway is the 7th highest educated country in the world. why would we not want more people from norway not because of the color of their skin bau because they're highly educated >> and not have more black people from africa? because i mean as to about a carry's point. . college level highs are high from african immigrants. >> it's a merit based system. >> this is crazy. >> okay. >> this is -- >> go ahead. >> this is insane. the fact that we're having the conversation with educated people on national tv is insane. because you don't understand the fundamental values of diversity. you don't understand the people coming from different parts of the world to the greatest country in the world bring various tools. they have different value.
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and yes if you can't sit here and rebuke the comments by the of the united states -- if this was merit based based on intelligent then i'm going to sign up to deport donald trump. listen to this what are we talking about? people coming from nigeria, people from lishia, the we have had poor immigrants from ireland come to this country. i don't hear people talking about this them. we've had por infantries from white countries. but you want to bring somebody who wants to bring intelligent or work with heir hands but they want to bring value to the united states of the america and you say no because they're have a shit hole because of the color of their skin. >> anderson we're saying the same thing we want america to remain the place where everyone in the world wants to come. what the president is sayingive to prioritize people based on the merit based system. he is saying there shouldn't be carve outs i went through the list. shouldn't be carve out for
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norway. >> is there any promptly white or caucasianen country the president has called for a shit hole? to your knowledge there is no predominately white country the president has called a shithole. now it's the entire continent the continent of africa. >> let's go back to van's point. >> can you name a majority caucasian population that the president doesn't want people from that yes. >> he wants the best and prietest. >> i'm waiting for him to say. there is problems there problems in norway, sweden. the idea he picks norway van go ahead. >> he met with the leader of norway yesterday. >> that's what was on his mind. >> he said asia. >> you can't have it both ways. >> you're asking for it both ways as well. he saw him yesterday. >> let me say a few things
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jason. >> he said asia. he generalize ds to the entire age. en population those are good people to have in the country as well. i mean, again that's racist van go ahead. >> anderson, anderson. >> one at a time van go ahead. van. >> i have the floor. so here is what i want to point out. whenever they try and defend what trump- let's just have an honest conversation. they don't talk about what trump said. they say we only care about individuals and merit and all this great stuff which nobody can argue with. unfortunately that is not what the president said. and so, yes, listen we can argue about the diversity visa. >> what's what this is about. >> we can talk about whether diversity visa which bakari and i are for are better than skills based. that's a conversation grown people can have. the word shit hole never comes up in that conversation.
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the fact we hear through the first half hour of this show and no one from this administration has said no one should call any country a shit hole. no one should call a continent that. a bridge too far tells you about the character of the trump movement. >> we are continuing the conversation after the break. be right back - [narrator] you hope nobody knows it's you.
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ana, the breaking news word that the president referred to african nations and haiti as shithole countries in an oval office meeting, a statement of mia love of utah says the president must apologize. this behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation. my parents came from one of those countries, took an oath of allegiance to it and took on the responsibilities of everything that being a citizen comes with. back now with the panel. i mean the white house, they were quick three weeks ago to say, well, no, in this meeting that was white house staff, oh, no, the president didn't say all haitians have aids and that nigerians all live in huts. those statements now ring a lot more true based on what he said today, and amazingly the white house is not denying he said what was reported that he said today. >> well, they can't deny it when you have people of the moral clarity of a dick durbin and lindsey graham and mario diaz balart who were there and heard it. mario diaz balart who represents south florida, where there are an enormous amount of haitian
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and haitian americans living here. he can't deny it when there are people of that caliber who were there and heard it. it tells you how shamelessly racist he is. this is not something he is saying in the dark of night. this is not something that he is thinking in his head. do you know why he doesn't like the visa lottery? it's the way the africans come here. you know why he doesn't like tps? because it covers haitians and salvadoreans. haitians and africans are in completely different parts of the world, completely different continents. they are black. they are black. donald trump has shown us his dark heart and racism. i am as desperate as anybody for there to be a daca deal, for there to be a deal on d.r.e.a.m.ers, but we cannot normalize the fact that donald trump has turned the oval office into a shithole, into a morally bankrupt place where there are lies and division and racism that comes out every single day.
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that cannot be normalized. the republicans, i applaud all the people in the republican party who are refusing to look the other way and normalize this appalling behavior by this man who today occupies the white house. and let me just tell you this. i am probably a few miles away from little haiti. i assure you that if the "miami herald" goes to the doral country club, they're going to find a lot of people from shithole countries working for minimum wage there for him. maybe that's something they should do. >> actually i was looking today, people from haiti actually are among i think it's the second biggest group of people who are brought in to work at mar-a-lago. >> of course they are. >> i'll have to confirm that. mark, i mean is this -- are you proud of the president's statements today? >> well, i stand with the president in terms of the fact that we need to reform our immigration. >> i asked, though, are you proud of the president's statements today. are you standing by those
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statements? >> well, i was not in those meetings so i can't -- i can't attest to the veracity of them. >> the white house is attesting to the veracity by not denying these statements. so assuming, unless you say the white house is lying, assuming these statements are correct, do you stand by -- are you proud of the president's statements? it's a simple question. >> i choose to view this in the intent that they were -- the way it was intended, which is talking about our broader immigration system. >> i don't understand what that means so i'm just going to ask one more time and then i'll let it go because clearly you don't want to answer. you're not willing to say you're proud of the president calling africa shithole and haiti the same? >> i'm not going to get into the specific comments that he made -- >> why not, because he's the president of the united states. that's what we're talking about, the specific comments he made. you can make up other statements you wish he had made but these are the statements he made. so you don't want to make a comment about the actual statements. >> and in the context of what he was talking about, in an immigration discussion talking about temporary protective
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status, in the context of that discussion, he was talking about his broader -- >> so you're not proud he used the word "shithole" to describe africa. i've asked you six times, you're clearly not going to answer. if people are going to stand by it, they should stand by it but not pretending -- pretend that he had said anything else. >> can you imagine if president obama said i don't want anybody from european countries, i want people from africa. what would the reaction from conservatives have been? it would have been complete bedlam. and there's a reason for that. it's a dumb thing to say. it would have been a racist thing to say. and there's no way to square that circle. my concern is not with donald trump. i think donald trump shows his heart over and over again. i am concerned that we have -- i'm proud that mia love came forward. every republican, the republican party, i hate to say this, the republican party is the party of lincoln. it was founded to be a radical,
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anti-slavery party sticking up to the dignity of every individual human. that's what the republican party is supposed to be. how can it be hard for republicans to sit on this show and say anything other than he should never have said that. we can disagree about policy. >> it's not hard at all. >> bakari, if a klansman in a white hood had mumbled this under his hood while burning a cross, saying, oh, africa is a shithole, all haitians have aids, haitians should get out, we don't want any more of them here, i know plenty of republicans would say, look, that's outrageous and disgusting somebody would say that. if somebody with a skinhead, with a shaved head said that marching in charlottesville with a tiki torch. people would say that's repugnant. if someone in the white house sitting with cuff links and a nice suit on, i guess it surprises me that more republicans aren't saying, well, you know, having a problem with it. >> that's because racists, anderson, with all due respect,
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racists don't wear hoods anymore. instead they wear brooks brothers suits and oftentimes get their own tv shows. the fact of the matter is this is not anything new to many of us trying to shatter these systems of oppression, injustice and racism. i guess it's new because the leader of the free world said it. the timing of this for me is what's most difficult. we are 50 years away -- it's 50 years since 1968. in 1968 you had the massacre, the assassination of robert f. kennedy and the assassination of dr. martin luther king. we celebrate his birthday on monday. i want everybody in the sound of my voice to understand that any words that come out of the president of the united states mouth talking about king day, talking about unity, talking about peace, talking about love, is a bold-faced lie because we know what he says behind closed doors. six months before dr. king was assassinated, he was having trouble with his own dream.
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he said people were growing frustrated because the dream of this country had shipwrecked off the coast of vietnam. he was having trouble realizing, getting people to believe in the dream that he thought was at the mountaintop. we are all frustrated because we believe that this american dream does not exist for people of color, and the president showed us that. >> we've got to take a break. i appreciate the discussion. up next, tweets from president trump on the nation's surveillance program that sent leaders on capitol hill scrambling. we'll have also more on the president's comments today at the white house. at stanford health care,
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we're going to have more on the president's racist comments and more on haiti coming up. there was another surprising moment at the white house today. the whole dust-up was over a series of contradictory tweets sent by the president. they came as the house was set to vote on a reauthorization of the foreign intelligence surveillance act otherwise known as fisa, specifically section 702. it's been credited with stopping terror plots. critics say it allows warrantless surveillance. at 7:33 the president took issue writing on twitter, quote, house votes on controversial fisa act today. this is the act that may have been used with the help of the discredited and phony dossier to so badly surveil and abuse the trump campaign by the previous administration and others, oddly placed question mark. that led to confusion on capitol hill. lawmakers said so themselves, including some republicans.
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the confusion was well founded because the administration had less than 12 hours before the president's tweet sent out a statement in support of the fisa reauthorization. so for almost two hours no one could figure out where the white house actually stood until the president went back on the twitter machine and reversed course back to support with fisa with this post. with that being said, i have personally directed the fix to unmasking process since taking office and today's vote is about foreign surveillance of foreign bad guys on foreign land. we need it. get smart. the vote took place and passed. this afternoon sarah sanders repeatly insisted of course there was no confusion. >> we don't think that there was a conflict at all. we don't see any contradiction or confusion in that. we weren't confused but some of you guys were. the president has been clear about what his position is. i'm not sure what the confusion is there. >> yep, no confusion at all. it must be us. joining us now, retired lieutenant general james clapper. director, thanks for being with us.
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i'm wondering, first of all, how you interpreted the president's tweets on fisa because there is the issue of him not knowing. specifics of the actual law and conflating this with his personal grudges against the intelligence community. >> well, i don't know about that, but it was very disturbing, to use one of the president's favorite tweet adjectives, sad that he didn't -- apparently he didn't understand exactly what section 702 is all about, which is designed to govern the collection on non-u.s. persons overseas. and i guess it gets to his allegation about -- absurd allegation about surveilling trump tower. and 702 has nothing to do with that. similarly conflating it with the dossier, which to be clear is not an intelligence product or intelligence document. and apparently this stemmed from
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watching "fox & friends" and that's in fact the first line of his first tweet came from a scroll from fox news. so i just hope nobody on "fox & friends" tells him to go bomb north korea. >> you would think the president would have people who could easily brief him on what is actually happening on capitol hill, that he wouldn't have to glean the information from, you know, the well informed folks on "fox & friends." >> well, it is, and he does have very competent people around him in the white house that do understand what 702 is and how important it is. it is absolutely vital for the safety and security of this country. it contributes thousands of intelligence -- generates thousands of intelligence reports every year and is one of the primary sources of information, if not the primary source of information for items
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that go into his own president's daily brief. >> i want to ask for your reaction today on the president's comments about immigrants from africa, from haiti, what he calls shithole countries. you served your country in the military, on the civilian side of the government. what do you make of what the president said? >> well, having -- as you alluded, anderson, having served this country in one capacity or another for 50-plus years, i was appalled, embarrassed. i'm out of adjectives that haven't already been used. it's vulgar, despicable, it's racist. it doesn't befit the office. i can already imagine the international reaction that that is already generating. it's very, very disappointing. >> i mean to -- first of all, to talk about africa as if it's one country and all the same is just moronic on a level that's really hard for anybody who spent any time in africa to understand,
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but let alone read a map. it just seems like the president paints with a very broad brush all of -- somehow for some reason is linking haiti and africa, the only commonality being the color of the skin of many of the people on the continent. >> well, i've lived in africa, lived in africa as a child in part of ethiopia. there are some 53 countries in africa with a broad diversity, and there are many people of african descent who have come to this country and made huge contributions. so it is really sad, disappointing, appalling, et cetera, to make a blanket accusation like that. and i get it on what the academic discussions about -- policy discussions about immigration reform, but there's
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just no tap dancing around what he did and what he said, and it's terrible. >> yeah. director clapper, i appreciate your time, thank you. up next, we'll hear from the writer who worked on "the art of the deal," the man who actually wrote it. what tony schwartz has to say about the president's racist comments today. delicious pasta marinara. but birds eye made it from zucchini. mmm... mashed potatoes...and rice! but made from cauliflower. looks like i need a fork! oh no. (giggles) birds eye veggie made. so veggie good. (toots) but you know it's you. so know this. the activated charcoal in charco caps adsorbs gas for fast gas relief without passing the gas. charco caps: put less boom in the room.
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tonight's breaking news. in an oval office meeting today, the president of the united states asked why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here, referring to haiti and africa and countries -- in fact, the continent of africa. some perspective now from someone who knows the president well, having spent plenty of time with him writing "the art of the deal." here's what tony schwartz had to say just before air when i asked if the president's comment was racist. >> well, yes, racist, clearly. hateful. and in some sense, more revealingly, so reflective of the narrowness of the world to which he gives any value. if you aren't like me, he's saying effectively, and he believes deep in his heart, if you're not rich and white and
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male, you're not worth anything. and that's a moment of great candor on his part when he says what he did today. and the notion that we have to parse whether or not it's actually he did say it, he said it just like that, he said that phrase or its equivalent hundreds of times. and the idea that we have a president who sees the world not only through a self-centered lens but through a lens that is so hateful to so many groups is -- it's just extraordinary. >> tony schwartz. before we go tonight, i want to take a moment to talk about haiti, one of the places the president of the united states referred to today as a shithole country. i was taught math in high school by a haitian immigrant who worked hard and dedicated himself to teaching kids in america. he ultimately returned to his country of haiti and was assassinated while running for president. i spent a lot of time in haiti. i first went there in the early 1990s as a young reporter. in 2010, my team from cnn was
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the first international team of journalists on the ground after the earthquake struck. i spent more than a month there and have returned many times on assignment and on vacation. like all countries, haiti is a collection of people. it's rich and poor, well educated and not, good and bad. but i've never met a haitian who isn't strong. you have to be to survive in a place where the government has often abandoned its people. where opportunities are few and where mother nature has punished the people far more than anyone should ever be punished. but let me be clear tonight. the people of haiti have been through more. they have been through more, they withstood more, they fought back against more injustice than our president ever has. tomorrow marks exactly eight years since the earthquake struck haiti. a 7.1 magnitude earthquake killed anywhere between 220,000 and 300,000 people. the actual numbers will never be known because they were buried in unmarked pits. 1.5 million people were displaced. for days and weeks without help from their own government or police, the people of haiti dug
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through rubble with their bare and bloodied hands to save complete strangers, guided only by the cries of the wounded and the dying. i was there when a young girl named bea, who had been trapped in rubble for nearly a day, was rescued by people who had no heavy equipment, they just had their god-given strength and their determination and their courage. i was there when a 5-year-old boy was rescued after being buried for more than seven days. do you know what strength it takes to survive on rainwater buried under concrete? a 5-year-old boy buried for seven days. haitians slap your hand hard when they shake it. they look you in the eye, they don't blink. they stand tall and they have dignity. it's a dignity many in this white house could learn from. it's a dignity the president, with all his money and all his power, could learn from as well. on the anniversary of the earthquake, on this day when this president has said what he has said about haitians, we hope the people in haiti who are